Pregame Report from AdventHealth Training Center
ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic welcomed back Paolo Banchero and Moe Wagner into their lineup on Friday night.
Even more help could be on the way.
Markelle Fultz was upgraded to questionable on the team's injury report for the first time this season in advance of the Magic’s Sunday night showdown with the Philadelphia 76ers at 6 p.m. ET.
“It’s really good to have these guys out there,” said Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley recently. “Just continue to add more bodies as we go along. Them being healthy. Getting our guys healthy is going to be great for us.”
Even if he's unable to play on Sunday, the upgrade on the injury report signals that Fultz's return will likely come in the very near future. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft missed all of training camp, the preseason, and the team’s first 19 regular season games after he suffered a fracture in his big left toe this offseason. The 6-foot-4 point guard played in 18 games last season with Orlando, averaging 10.8 points, 5.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.1 steals. in 20.0 minutes per contest.
While his return would be more than welcome, consistently shuffling players in and out of the lineup – as the Magic have been forced to do as a result of injuries – has created its own set of unique challenges. Offensive flow and defensive communication were two issues that crept up and bit Orlando in its 107-99 loss to Philadelphia on Friday.
“It’s definitely not easy at all,” said Mosley of the constant lineup adjustments. “Understanding when guys go out. Guys are getting banged up, getting beat up, and these are minutes (some) guys haven’t played before. These opportunities are there and we’re going to keep looking at guys getting these opportunities, but hopefully when we get a full roster back, we’ll be able to evaluate and assess the right way.”
The Sixers, meanwhile, are dealing with injuries to a number of their franchise cornerstones. Joel Embiid (left mid-foot sprain), James Harden (right foot; tendon strain), and Tyrese Maxey (fractured left foot) all missed Philadelphia’s first meeting with Orlando and will once again be out on Sunday.
However, the Sixers still have plenty of firepower. Shake Milton flirted with a triple-double (24 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists) and Tobias Harris notched a double-double of his own (23 points and 10 rebounds) in Philadelphia’s road victory. Georges Niang came off the bench and knocked down five triples on his way to 18 points.
“I definitely think we need to box out and keep them off the boards,” said Banchero, who posted 19 points, four rebounds, and three assists in his return to action from a sprained left ankle. “They shoot threes, which results in long rebounds, so they got a lot of second chances by us not boxing out. So, definitely clean that up on the boards, and then find shooters. We knew Niang was a sniper coming in and we let him get (five) threes. He made some big shots. So, we can’t let that happen next game. We have to be aware of where he’s at. And then, try to turn up the intensity one more notch.”
IN AND OUT: Terrence Ross (illness) is probable. Wendell Carter Jr. (right plantar fascia; strain), Fultz, Kevon Harris (illness), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness), and Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) are questionable. Cole Anthony (right internal oblique tear) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery) are out for the Magic.
For Philadelphia, Embiid, Harden, Maxey, Jaden Springer (right quad strain), and Matisse Thybulle (left ankle tenosynovitis) are out.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It makes it tough (to get into a rhythm when guys are going in and out), but it’s a bad example because (the Sixers) are doing the same thing. I think they did a better job of handling that (on Friday) and played more consistent throughout the game. We had more ups and downs. We get another shot on Sunday.” – Franz Wagner, who fired off a game-high 24 points against Philadelphia on Friday
HOW TO WATCH: Watch the game on Bally Sports Florida or tune in on radio via FM 96.9 The Game.